5/22/2018

1939 Stradolin Jr Archtop A-Style Mandolin




Just about every Stradolin I've played has punched above its weight both in tone, volume, and playability after work. This Junior model, with its all-ply body, is no exception. It's got oomph and a good, clear, focused tone. It sounds bluegrassy and crisp with just enough lower-mids warmth to give it some presence. It's dated to February 6th, 1939 with a stamp on the inside. I wish more manufacturers were so clear on their production dates! As far as makers go -- I'm under the impression that Stradolins were probably made by the United factory in New Jersey.

Work included a fret level/dress, side dots install, compensation and a little recutting of the bridge, cleaning, replacement (vintage-correct) screws for one side of the original tuners, and two "relic" strap buttons installed at the heel and tailpiece. Aside from a missing tailpiece cover, the instrument is all-original and in good order -- it even has its original chip case. The neck had a hair of warp in it and that effect was removed via the fret level/dress.

Specs are: 13 3/4" scale, 1 3/16" nut width, 15/16" string spacing at the nut, 1 5/8" spacing at the bridge, 1/16" action height (spot-on) at the 12th fret with adjustment room up/down, 9 3/4" body width, and 2" side depth. Strings are 34w-10 Dunlop phosphor bronze. The body is all thin, 3-ply maple/birch-or-poplar/maple, it seems. The neck is poplar or maple and the fretboard and bridge are both rosewood.


I love the look of the Strad f-holes and routed-out "purfling" along the top edge. There's a bit of muting-foam just in front of the tailpiece on the top to damp overtones.


The nut is rosewood, too. The frets are lower and small but still have some life in them.


Pearl dots are in the board.





The back has a faux-flame finish.


The tuners are lubed and working fine, though they're nothing to write home about.







The original chip case looks pretty decent, though I've had to replace the broken "hinges" with black duct tape. It will serve for light travel and storage.

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